Should Stickers Return?


Disclaimer: The opinions presented in this argument do not represent that of the Source Gaming team but that of just the author.

In Super Smash Bros Brawl, a new collectible was introduced alongside the trophies. These were stickers which showed off Nintendo’s artwork in comparison to the 3D models found in trophies. They also had a practical use, being used to create funny pictures, just like the trophies, but also to power up the characters used in the Subspace Emissary. Unfortunately, stickers were cut in Super Smash Bros 4 and I view this as a bad thing. Stickers had their problems in Brawl but I think their inclusion benefited the series and today I am going to explain why they came about and argue for their return.

The easiest way to find out about Smash's fighters
The easiest way to find out about Smash’s fighters

The original Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 64 was the first character fighter Nintendo had made. It drew in a bunch of their different IPs and pitted them against each other however, Sakurai and his team could not assume every single player would know every single fighter in the game. Characters like Ness who originated in a niche franchise like Earthbound, a series never even released in Europe, meant that Nintendo ran the risk of not having players get attached to the characters. People would naturally gravitate towards Mario and Donkey Kong, with Ness and Captain Falcon being ignored. To alleviate this, Sakurai included character bios for each of the fighters. This way, anyone who was unfamiliar with a character could read up on him within game, remember that this was time before internet was very mainstream. Fast forward to Super Smash Bros. Melee and the character bios had been upgraded. Now, they appeared as trophies and they covered more than just the playable fighters. The trophies not only acted as a collectible for the game, something small to have the players unlock and strive to get, but they allowed Sakurai to show off all of Nintendo’s history, even the characters and series’ that would otherwise be unable to have fighters included.

Trophies were naturally very popular, after all who did not dream of having collectible figures of Nintendo’s characters (‘cough’amiibo’cough’). The trophies were 3D models and during the time of Super Smash Bros Melee there had only been the N64 and early GameCube where 3D Nintendo models could be taken from. This meant that in Melee, the majority of the trophies were all brand new 3D models made for the game. With the trophy collection growing ever larger, Nintendo would have to put more effort into making 3D models and, despite personally loving the trophy feature, this was not the place to spending lots of resources. Instead, the team decided to make the trophies using the more logical method – taking already existing models of characters and re purposing them for the new game. This is why all the fighters in Brawl have all their trophies using their in-game models rather than a new one like in Melee. However, this came with a drawback. Not all of Nintendo’s IP had 3D models and so Brawl so a pulling away from the classic retro Nintendo representation in characters like Donbe & Hikari, and Ayumi Tachibana in favour of newer characters from games in 3D like Chibi-Robo and Ashley Mizuki Robbins. This is not to say Nintendo did not make any new models because they did, but the amount of new models greatly decreased between the two games.

Although based on her DS appearance, Ashley did have a 3D model thanks to Another Code R
Although based on her DS appearance, Ashley did have a 3D model thanks to Another Code R

This new and more cost effective direction to take the Trophies allowed more of them to be included but prevented fan favorites from ever getting to reappear again. This is where stickers come in. Thanks to stickers being 2D in nature, a 3D model was not required. The stickers instead used official Nintendo Artwork and sprites that covered a variety of games. We can see this in the inclusion of some stickers that would never have been able to be trophies with this new development model. This is beneficial as it means more of Nintendo’s history gets the chance to be represented within the Super Smash Bros franchise and the time to add them is minor as they did not include full on bios like the trophies. The latter reason also allowed for multiple stickers of the same character to appear, which really represented the characters appearance and evolution throughout the series history in a way that trophies cannot.

Unfortunately stickers had their own problems and did not return for Super Smash Bros for Wii U & 3DS. The actual function of the stickers as stat boosts was replaced by the generic Equipment found when making custom fighters so from a gameplay standpoint, stickers were unneeded. In Super Smash Bros Brawl, stickers were numerous and far more obnoxious to get than the trophies were. The sticker pick-up was generic and you couldn’t tell if you got a sticker you needed until after you beat a campaign level, as only the campaign could stickers be unlocked. All of this unnecessary tediousness made the stickers unpopular when compared to the trophies, and with the ever increasing amount of trophies, adding more collectibles might make it too cumbersome for some. This seems to be why stickers were removed but in all honesty, they weren’t removed at all, just made worse.

It could sometimes be clustered but the sticker function here felt more personal to each player
It could sometimes be clustered but the sticker function here felt more personal to each player

As previously stated, the actual functions of the stickers got absorbed by the equipment for customs but along with this, all of the issues that the stickers had went along with it. You don’t know what equipment you are going to get until after you do a mission and you a very liable for repeats. Add to the fact that the equipment is just as numerous and you can see that the only difference between the two apart from name is that the equipment has had all of that Nintendo love stripped out of it. This makes the player care a lot less for the equipment than they would for the sticker. If they are going to essentially keep stickers in through the equipment then they may as well have kept them as stickers. The only reason I can think of for having the Nintendo aspect removed is time. There was not enough time to implement all the individual artwork and so it was replaced with a generic picture that nobody cared for.

My reason for writing this article was to say why I think stickers should return, not for a functional reason but for a Nintendo reason. Sticker’s allowed Nintendo to show off more of their history and more if their IP. They really helped to add to the idea that the Super Smash Bros franchise is a celebration of Nintendo and gaming in general. It did not require a lot of resources and was a good way to please fans. In the future, if Nintendo can make stickers easier to get then I think all of their problems would be sorted. They can just replace equipment, just like equipment replaced them.


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  1. I honestly can only think of a good way to implement them for characters. Imagine next to a character’s classic trophy there was a tab like ‘History of Mario’ where you could scroll through stickers of Mario, and it states the game the sticker is from. As for customization, I think stickers would complicate everything (see SmashWiki’s page for list of stickers, one of the largest on the wiki), and would be as neglected, if not more than equipment. I think now with the different trophy designs (impossible to turn or other poses) you have part of the issue solved, but you still need descriptions.

  2. For what it’s worth, I would say Equipment acts as a spiritual successor for stickers, or at least in relation to how they can be used on costume characters.

  3. I didn’t even give Stickers much of a thought lately… I barely played Brawl and Stickers seemed like one of those things that I never really used much (I regrettably didn’t make it far in Subspace.) I use Custom Equipment all the time, and after reading your article, I would kinda rather have the Stickers back. Going with the whole “figure” theme, it makes a lot more sense than random equipment. Being able to represent minor things that don’t warrant an entire trophy seems like a plus as well.

    Hopefully they’ll return for the next one… (u.u)

  4. Back in Brawl, sticker collection to me was slightly addicting and easy as you can find them in pretty much anywhere. While I used them for every character in Subspace Emissary, they were mostly used for either collecting and finishing the achievements or used to spawn that special item to catch subspace enemies and bosses when thrown during post-adventure mode. My issue with stickers was mostly the process of fitting as many as you could under the trophy base, making it slower compared to Smash 4. With all that said, I also want the stickers to return but just be there to exist similar to the trophies and while were at it, I wish a revamped version of the coin launcher would return as well.

  5. I hardly used any stickers back in Brawl…except for increasing the percentage of Smash Plates to become a Subspace Emissary Master (gotta catch’em all!!). (lol) Otherwise, I felt it’ll be a waste if I use it because it looks disposable if used. Other than that, I hardly customize my character since I like the original status. However, rather than using them as custom equipment, I do agree they should treat them as collectible stickers of official artworks; it does feel important as being part of video game history.

    But on the other hand, I would like to see those retro characters back as trophy figures too. I hope they’ll return in the next one.

  6. I don’t think including 2D-only characters is a good reason to include stickers, since SSB4 already includes trophies of 2D-only characters. They appear flat and sometimes have an alternate pose on the back side.

    Also, one advantage of SSB4’s equipment system over stickers is that the player feels no particular obligation to collect all the equipment, since not only is it not on the challenge board like collecting all stickers was in Brawl, it’s actually impossible (or effectively so). (That said, the other problems remain, and the equipment system is overall stil somewhat frustrating.)

  7. Amen! Great article. I also truly miss the stickers. I had a lot of fun collecting them and looking through them. And also the fact that they appeared in normal smash matches made you collect new ones without even noticing.

  8. I don’t think seeing the stickers prior to picking them up is that big of deal because even if it was a repeat sticker it is already in reach so why not pick it up? Besides, you can make CD and Sticker farming levels with conveyor belts or in Smash 4 Wii U using steep slants.

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